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A lot of pilots leaving the forums

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A lot of pilots leaving the forums

Old 8th Sep 2010, 13:40
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A lot of pilots leaving the forums

A number of people I know have commented on this recently.

Going back about 5+ years, there were a lot of what one might describe as 'serious' threads on forums. Here and Flyer, though IMHO Flyer has gone downhill a lot lately. Significantly the same decline is evident on other pilot forums in the USA.

There are also two 'members only' pilot forums I occassionally read and both have gone the same way, since they started in approx 2002. One of them (in the USA) has gone from very good tech content to a dozen individuals posting mostly banal questions, answered mostly by one individual (who owns the site). The other is still OK but is reduced to the same few people posting.

There seems to be no doubt that the majority of the old timers have simply vanished.

Obviously they haven't all died, so where are they?

The serious owner-pilots seem to have a low churn rate; you don't buy a plane, perhaps get an IR etc and then after sweating on all that for years, developing a capability to go places, chuck it in because you are bored. These people are still out there, flying... especially looking at those I know personally. I reckon 1/3 of those I have known over the last 10 years have stopped flying - partly due to medicals (heart attacks mainly) and partly due to major financial issues.

Maybe the internet (Usenet e.g. rec.aviation.* 10+ years ago, and the www forums taking over since then) has provided a means of discussion but after the standard topics have been covered a dozen times, people lose interest. And the very static nature of the owner-pilot population means that when they lost interest, there was nobody around to replace them.

And non-owner-pilots tend to give up very fast anyway, because there is significant hassle in flying and they have little to keep them motivated.

It is more difficult to keep going in Europe than the USA because of its much higher barriers to utility value of GA, but the same has happened in the USA.

It is certainly an interesting social phenomenon that you might have a one-off wave of interest which then passes.
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 14:14
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A most interesting thread.

I find I am falling into the camp you talk about. I will be every interested to see what others think.
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 14:42
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Landscape

I feel the threads and forums replicate what is going 'on' in the field, and on a wider the scale the social landscape. Individuals yearn for the 'way it was'. I am one of them, Ask me and I will say that flying/social/interaction was a lot more fun a few years ago, not so sure now. I own and operate two aeroplanes, wonderfull bits of kit, and truly enjoy them, however, the clutter surrounding aviation today is getting in the way. EASA/LAA/FAA/ et al. I also look at some of these forums, and this is great, generalisation, fewer people seems to now what they are talking about. The 'old' timers appear to be scoffed at, especially in these forums where experience sometimes does not count for a lot. Just my thoughts.
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 14:52
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I would not be surprised if some of the in-fighting between the various "specialists" on these fora leads to people giving up.

Also not rarely when newcomers first post is a question, invariably there will be a die-hard who points them to the search engine with little or no compassion. ouch.....

This hard direct hit attitude may scare off the newcomers.

Especially on the Private Flying I have no doubt the economic recession must be biting..... less student pilots = less PPRuNe readers?


I for one am still waiting for IO (is that a Walt Disney character??) to start a blog on GA.... I'll subscribe because he s hard hitting opinionated and knowledgeable at the same time, much better than the "let's protect the advertiser" traditional mags.
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 14:53
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I'll expand further on that. A group of us flew from a local GA airport, great fun , impromptu barbecues etc, meals at the local chinese, then off flying again till dark. Life was good. Then the airport owner, hiked the rents up, a few left, then the airport owner erected 'security fencing', then the airport owner closed the airfield at 5.00, instead of the 8.00 deal, then no one could get a key, 'security reasons', a few more left, then some went financially bust, then some drifted to microlights - result a couple of 'hardened owners' left wondering where all the fun went.
Perhaps the hire and fly guys just do not want that hastle, whereas the hardened owners, stick it out, frustrated maybe, but are still there. The forums and columns where people air their views will dwindle in content in a scenario as I described above. I have a dozen more of these tales, but I think you get the drift
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 14:57
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Maxred

I agree...... Gone are the days of a BBQ between the planes in the hanger.....
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 15:04
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Yep, they banned the bbq's, then the airfield cafe went bustStill did not let us make our own.
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 15:09
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You had BBQs between planes in a hangar???

No wonder they banned it. I would have banned that myself

Next you will be telling me you drained some avgas to get the BBQ started

But, joking apart, I do not think that the level of technical forum contributions does indeed mirror the wider social scene in GA. My experience, looking at people I know, is that most "serious" pilots do not mix socially, hang around the airport bar, etc. I for sure don't mix locally (there is no social scene where I am based, unless one is a particularly sad case) although I do fly to meet up with loads of pilots, UK and abroad.

Sure there is a lot of hassle in GA, which does constantly grind at one's enthusiasm for flying, but as I said earlier this is not reflected in how many of pilots I know personally have chucked in flying for good. Most haven't. But they have chucked in pilot forums - assuming they were on them to start with, which the majority never were.

Last edited by IO540; 8th Sep 2010 at 15:21.
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 15:20
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Hmmnn This is very topical for me. Having enjoyed owning a Robin ATL for 10 years, and flown it to France a couple of times, plus many local bimbles, airshows etc.

The coming of EASA effectively grounded the aircraft, and resulted in 14 months of monumental struggles with paperwork, CAMOs, and burocrats.
Now the ATL has a non-expiring EASA C of A and a new ARC, and is ready to fly again. Plus I have found a loophole that allows me to continue maintaining the aeroplane myself regardless of the EASA part M nightmare.

But the insurance needs to be renewed, my aircrew medical needs to be done, my rusty flying requires some time with an instructor, and the aeroplane having spent all that time sitting in a hanger gathering dust and rust is now an unknown as regards safety.

My enthusiasm is low, there is a 'so what' feeling following on from the pleasure of 'beating the system' and winning the battle with authority.

I am close to giving up flying, which seems incredible given a lifetime of doing so, and remembering all the adventures and experiences that flying has provided me.

Ah well perhaps the joy and enthusiasm for flying will come back, but the bills and fees and shelling out of more and more money sure don't help.
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 15:46
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Many of the more vicious and arrogant "expert" posters seem to have given up which is not a bad thing. Fortunately many of the more helpful ones remain.

It takes a bit of creativity to start a thread which creates some interest. Many subjects have been done to death numerous times and if one returns numerous times only to find the same old boring threads one couldn't be bothered.

As to the actual flying. I am one renter who has no intention of giving up anytime soon. Doing something new is important and takes a bit of research and imagination.

It also helps once you get to know the staff at the flying club.
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 16:14
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For what its worth......

Since joining these fora a few years back, I have drifted from Group A to modern 3 axis microlights cos it offers me more (double) hours in the air for my budget. I am an NPPL and intend to stay that way.

Therefore......

Any threads on here or Flyer which embrace IR, night flying, EASA maintenance paperwork, the plat de jour at some French airfield, the merits of X versus Y Florida Flying school, the best model Arrer' to buy and the finer points of some exotic glass cockpit .....merit scant attention from me......

Add to this the aforementioned bickering and pontificating and I for one will soon be drifting away.........
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 16:22
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Flying wise I have never had it so good. Life on the strip is almost completely hassle free and the social side has got better, (inc BBQ’s etc). The total number of locally based aircraft is however down very markedly. I was shown round a friends aircraft parked at the local licensed airfield where I based my AA5 and was shocked by how few privately owned aircraft were left (down ½ to 2/3). I had put the reduction in interesting forum stuff down to fewer pilots and fewer pilot owners. I suspect things will pick up with the economic cycle, but my flying is far removed from IO540’s, which may have been impacted much harder by the recession.

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Old 8th Sep 2010, 16:24
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Interestingly, I find rather the same to our last contributor, the ersatz sea creature; but at the opposite end of the spectrum. The type of flying I really love is to hop in the plane in Rotterdam, and fly to Africa; but there are precious few other pilots who do this kind of GA flying! I'd love a forum catering to the more adventurous GA traveller, but by their nature, a lot of them seem to be rather independent loners who don't frequent such things.
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 16:44
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Add to this the aforementioned bickering and pontificating and I for one will soon be drifting away.........
Indeed. This is the reason why I myself no longer post topics and very rarely comment on a discussion on PPRuNe. There is a wealth of information contained on these fourms and I often go back and read topics from years ago - a virtual library straight from the horses mouth so to speak. Pilots with hundreds if not thousands of hours experience is a wealth of information to new-comers to the industry such as myself. However I have found that I invariably end up in a pissing match with same pilots because I may offer a different view, or because my question is stupid and I shouldn't be flying at all!! Therefore I conclude it is not worth the hassle to even bother posting the majority of my queries - if I cannot find an answer here on via google I will ask at my local club. Granted, the responses will be from a less broader ranger of pilot's many of whom share the same views as they have a similar background but this is my loss and I am prepared to go without.
The best one for me was when I was told via PM by a guru on here with thousands of hours flying seemingly every category of aircraft (and equally as many PPRuNe posts ) that I should end each of my posts with a disclaimer to read "Newly qualified PPL with little experience". Very true - but how will that experience be measured in 10 years time when, inevitability, the next generation of pilots take over?

Will I, and it seems others, be around to pass on my experience? Not virtually anyway!

Regards
Ryan
A newly qualified PPL with little experience
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 17:04
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that I should end each of my posts with a disclaimer to read "Newly qualified PPL with little experience"
That is unbelievably arrogant. You should tell him to p1ss off.

Interesting comment about the "rough and tumble" though. This is a very old characteristic of the internet, made possible by anonymity. When "discussion" first appeared, it was in Usenet, which was famous for its "flame wars". But there was an easy solution for Usenet: you added that poster to a killfile, and you never saw their posts again. Sadly this is not possible on web forums, which all thus have a moderator who basically does that job. Also Usenet had no PM mechanism; one used emails.

However I think most posters learnt to ignore the idiots and still got value out of it. If you don't feed the trolls, they go away. This applies here too.
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 17:41
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And yet there are right now 207 (67 remembers & 140 guests) active users logged in – and that's just the “Private Flying” forum. What are they all doing? Presumably taking in the words of wisdom posted "by the few"?
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 18:00
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But there was an easy solution for Usenet: you added that poster to a killfile, and you never saw their posts again. Sadly this is not possible on web forums
Oh yes it is... click on the username, view public profile, then in nearish the top, on the right is a link to "add this user to your ignore list" or something similar
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 18:09
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As an NPPL with 200 hours I've found this forum to be amazingly useful. Questions are often asked which I've thought 'I wonder what the answer to that is'?

Having plucked up the courage to ask one or two questions, yes I did get some rather stroppy answers from the 'professionals' but enough other folk gave me the info I needed.

I've learn't a heck of a lot and have recommended the site to others.
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 18:42
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I began to notice a distinct drop in interest in aviation in general, about 20 year or so ago. I remember as a kid that aviation and airplanes were magic. The toy section of stores were full of model airplanes. Airshows were popular, and well attended. I was an active Civil Air Patrol cadet, where we joined for our nearly insatiable desire to fly and be around airplanes.

About 20 years ago, though, I noticed that the toy sections at the store contained few models, and what ones there were, were cars. Boats. The odd spaceship. But airplanes? Few and far between.

I was flying cadets as a Cadet Orientation Pilot on the weekends. In the CAP, cadets were awarded six orientation flights, in association with their rank advancements (the cadet program is somewhat like the Boy Scouts, but with airplanes, and is an Air Force volunteer auxilliary). Cadets couldn't be bothered to show up for the free flight instruction...it didn't cost them a dime except for their time and getting to the airport...but they'd have parties to go to, friends to see, and no time to fly.

Recently on one of the aviation web boards I visited, a discussion was in play about aviation history in the Pacific in WWII. When I was younger, it was second nature to have read everything one could find on that material. Anything from Otto Lilienthal to Sputnik...it was all fair game. I was amazed at kids that couldn't recognize airplanes by their outline or sound, and who didn't look up when they heard an airplane fly overhead. On this web board, though, most participants had never heard of Tinian, or about much of the Pacific war. They didn't know the airplanes, the names, the places. I was amazed.

Who doesn't see Douglas Bader as a hero, and know his story? Is this possible?

I do understand when a private pilot tells me he "used to fly." Flying is expensive. It's one thing to have a clear goal in mind when one is working toward one's Private, or toward one's Instrument rating. When that's accomplished, however, it's hard for many to justify the exorbitant costs of flying. I've always maintained that the hardest part of flying is paying for it. If that's true, the hardest part of learning to fly after paying for it is continuing to pay for it after one has achieved certification.

I own a large number of firearms. I've used them at work and in play most of my life. I've been an avid shooter and reloader for a very long time. However, lately I have little time to shoot. Ammunition in the USA has become nearly prohibitively expensive. I used to participate a lot in various firearms websites. Of late, however, I drop in occasionally, but I find it more aggravating than therapeutic in general. It's like being hungry and standing outside a diner window, looking in at the food. I suspect it's the same for many who want to fly, and can't. Playing on web boards and talking about the flying they can't do is frustrating, like rubbing salt in a wound. I think that sees the loss of many who would otherwise stay for the camaraderie, if for nothing else.

When I was flight instructing, I worked extremely hard to interest people in taking flying lessons. I towed an airplane through the longest parade in the country. I gave presentations at colleges and high schools. I towed banners advertising flying. I put up flyers, took out ads. I took an airplane apart and put it together in a mall as part of a display. I held ground schools, sold scenic rides to encourage people to learn, did all sorts of things to bring people into flying. I seldom left the airport, often sleeping in a volkswagon van behind a hangar before returning to fly more.

That level of enthusiasm and drive can only be maintained for so long. I managed to keep it going for about 20 years. I find myself still very much in aviation and driven by it, but not with the same fire as before. Part of my drive today isn't being so enamored with flying that I can think of nothing else, but that it's what I do; it's my employment. For those who don't have that pushing them along, then flying becomes largely a very expensive hobby. That requires justification, and any time a luxury or hobby must be justified, it's found being constantly weighed in the scales...and stands at risk of being tossed aside.

I think its a combination of these things, sometimes individually, sometimes severally, that leads to people falling away. There has always been a high turnover in student starts and people who enter flying and then leave. Perhaps the reason it's more pronounced today, or at least more noticeable, is that we have considerably fewer student starts today. We've still got many who come and go, but much fewer who start, and subsequently even less who stay.

Over the last couple of years I've known a number of professional pilots who elected to leave the business. Pilots who were once very dedicated, but who found themselves unable to get work for months, sometimes nearly two years...and left to pursue other vocations. None of them left happily or with any desire to leave...most drifted reluctantly and unhappily into a cubicle, or classroom, or some other place where they always regretted not being able to fly. It's not just private pilots. It's everybody. So long as the economy suffers, people suffer, and certainly aviation (a leading economic indicator and one of the first casualties of a poor economy) will suffer right along with it.
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Old 8th Sep 2010, 19:34
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I don't buy the argument that most of the old-time pilots have stopped flying.

As I said earlier, most of those I know, here in the UK, are still flying.

There has always been a large churn rate in GA. The barriers to entry are quite low at the PPL level, and a lot of people go into it just for a laugh, and I would expect those to be severely affected by the economy (both ways). But I am talking about long term pilots.

Sure some people have stopped flying. But what I see across the forums is something like a 90% disappearance.

Last edited by IO540; 8th Sep 2010 at 19:55.
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